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202333-private-henry-barrow-etheringtonHenry Barrow Etherington was born in Mellor in 1884. His father, William Etherington was born in Salwick on the rural outskirts of Preston. His mother Mary Hodgkinson lived in nearby Bartle and after their marriage in 1868 they set up home at Lower Bartle. By 1871 they had three children; Margaret (1869-1881), John (1870)) and Henry (1871). William Etherington was a shoemaker by trade.

By the time of the 1881 Census the family had moved to Mellor and the family had also grown in size; Thomas (1873), Elizabeth (1877), Richard (1879) and Mary (1880). In this Census William Etherington`s occupation is described as the Shakerley Toll Bar Keeper and a shoemaker. William, working as the toll keeper also enabled him to live in the Toll Bar House at Shakerley with his family.

In 1882 William and Mary had another daughter, Margaret and she was followed by Henry Barrow (1884), Edward (1888) and then William (1890).

Unfortunately in 1890 the toll road along with many others across England was disbanded leaving the toll keepers not only redundant but also homeless.

Shakerley Toll Bar House at Mellor. Photo reproduced with the kind permission of Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery

Shakerley Toll Bar House at Mellor. Photo reproduced with the kind permission of Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery

By 1891 having left their house at the toll bar Henry and his family moved to 15 Redmayne Street which is located just off London Road in Preston (still standing in 2016). John Hodgkinson, Henry`s maternal grandfather is also living in the household. All members of the family of working age are employed in one of the local cotton weaving factories and Henry`s father had also gone into the factory as a works watchman.

Ten years later in the 1901 Census the family had moved again and had gone to live at 223 New Hall Lane and the family had increased by one more daughter, Lily (1895). Henry`s father is now back working from home as a shoe and boot maker while the rest of the family were still employed in local mills. Henry`s father passed away on the 1st September 1901 and by 1911 his mother Mary had moved house again, this time to 404 Primrose Bank in New Hall Lane and was living with two of her daughters, Margaret and Lily. There is no mention of Henry in this Census but his army attestation form describes him as a collier, so it`s possible he was either working away or not at home on the night of the Census.

On the 23rd March 1916 Henry was called up for war service, later information states that pre-war he had been working for a builder, Mr. Stokes of New Hall Lane, however, his attestation form states his occupation was a collier. Henry was single and had no previous military experience and his home address was given as 404 New Hall Lane in Preston. He was 5`4” tall and he weighed 126lbs and had a 35” chest. Henry was issued with the service number 5234 which in January 1917 when the new style TF numbers came into force would become 202333. On the following day Henry was posted to the 2/4th Battalion LNL.

Henry would have joined his Battalion who at the time were in Ashford, Kent coming under the command of the 170th Brigade in 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division. In July 1916 they moved to Aldershot and then in October on to Blackdown. The Battalion sailed from Southampton to Le Havre on the 8th February 1917. After arriving in France the 2/4th Battalion were initially billeted at the village of Meteren between the 11th and 13th February before moving on to Bailly. On the 15th February the Battalion then moved to take over the trenches, relieving the 1st Battalion New Zealand Rifle Brigade and stayed in this position until they were relieved on the 25th February.

Shortly after leaving the trenches Henry was taken to number 2 Casualty Clearing Station suffering from cellulitis in his left foot. By the 25th February 1917 he had been admitted to 32 Stationery Hospital in Wimerux and two days later he was transferred back to England for more treatment. After recovering Henry embarked for France again on the 11th June 1917 but before he had chance to re-join his Battalion he was admitted to 20 General Hospital in Etaples on the 6th July suffering from scabies. On the 3rd August 1917 he was posted to the 1/4th Battalion LNL, joining them in the field on the 8th August.

By November 1917 after four months on the Somme front, the 1/4th Battalion found themselves in the rear at Vaucelette camp close to the town of Cambrai. On the 30th November the Battalion was ordered to move forward in the direction of Vaucelette Farm where they immediately came under fire from the enemy advancing from the village of Villers Guislain making it difficult to maintain their position. They eventually stabilised their position and managed to stop the enemy advance and then orders were then received to clear the Germans from the village of Villers Guislain. This involved advancing up a hill and although this initially went well, 200 yards from the crest, ammunition began to run short and to make matters worse the enemy began to advance over the crest in considerable strength. The Battalion Commander then ordered a withdrawal back to Vaucelette Farm which was successfully completed and a defensive perimeter established. Eventually reinforcements were able to consolidate the line and the Battalion was relieved by the 1/8th Kings Liverpool Regiment.

Casualties had been heavy during the engagements and between the 30th November and 1st December the Battalion had 3 Officers and 11 other ranks killed. The Officers being Lieut-Colonel R. Hindle, D.S.O., Captain R.N.L. Buckmaster and 2nd Lieutenant J.H. Livesey, 8 Officers and 84 non-commissioned Officers and men were wounded and 15 men missing.

Private Henry Barrow Etherington was one of the 15 men reported missing, afterwards it was reported that he was killed in action or had died of wounds on or shortly after 30th November 1917. Henry was later buried in Fins New British Cemetery at Sorel-le-Grand, Fins being a small village between Cambrai and Peronne.

The Preston Guardian later published the following information;


As his next of kin, Henry`s mother Mary received some of his personal effects on the 10th May 1918, comprising; 2 wallets, letters, photos, cards, notebook, ID Disc, 1 pipe and 1 tobacco pouch.

After the war Mary Etherington also received Henry`s British War and Victory Medals.

In the newspaper article above reporting his death, there is mention of three of his brothers also serving as soldiers, one on the Western front and two in Egypt, unfortunately there does not appear to be any surviving records of their service.

Henry Etherington is also remembered on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Library in Preston.

Rank: Private
Service No: 202333
Date of Death: 30/11/1917
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Ron Crowe
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